Friday, October 8, 2010

Coumarin & Cinnamon ...Good OR BAD ?

Question: What do the following:  
A) Cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia & Ceylon) 
B) Lavender (Lavandula spp.) 
C) Chamomile
D) Licorice
E) Strawberries, Apricots, Cherries,
F) Tobacco products and Rodent poison.
                All have in common? 
Answer: They all contain the phytochemical  called Coumarin (coo - mahr - in)

Coumarin is said to have a sweet vanilla flavour and a hay-like aroma. It is quite popular in nature as such can be found in a number of plants as shown above.
Being deemed a phytochemical, the associated beneficial properties of coumarin incluldes: blood-thinning, anti-fungicidal and anti-tumor. In selected herbs & shrubs, it is found to act as a natural pesticide.
The key issue with coumarin, is the fact that it is toxic to the liver and kidneys once consumed above the tolerable level of 0.1 mg coumarin per kg body weight, as deemed by The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BFR). Coumarin has the ability to alter the blood vessels, primarily veins and capillaries. By way of increasing the rate of blood flow in  veins whilst decreasing the permeability of capillaries, as such, the combined effect could lead to potentially fatal effects depending on the individual.
The BFR noted that once consumed, coumarin is metabolised to a compound (7-hydroxycoumarin) of lowered toxicity so in other words, it can be eliminated. Therefore, it is best to know the coumarin levels present in foods because high daily intakes of foods rich in the compound (over an extended period) could lead to potentially dangerous health effects.
On a Cinna-Note:
Consuming cinnamon (1 teaspoon 2 or 3 times daily) on a daily basis has shown to be beneficial for Type II Diabetics, in terms of lowering lowering blood glucose, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol levels. Not all, cinnamon commonly found in stores are the same  coumarin-wise.
 Ceylon cinnamon is noted to have (0.004% coumarin per 100g)  much lower levels of coumarin than cassia cinnamon (5% per 100g).  To get a better picture:1 Teaspoon of Cassia Cinnamon contains  5.8 to 12.1 mg coumarin .

So, the question is, should one be overly concerned with the coumarin in Cinnamon be it, ceylon or cassia?

It would seem that a key property of  coumarin is overlooked when it is discussed. Coumarin is a  fat soluble compound which means that in order for it to be released, it needs to interact with a fat solvent. In essence, unless a person is consuming cinnamon oil on a frequent basis, the likelihood of being exposed to coumarin by way of their daily cinnamon tea is minimal.  

Coumarin can be fatal to humans over a certain level, but it's fat soluble property reduces it's chances of leaching out in solvents other than fat or oil.
Note: Coumarin and Coumadin are not inter- changeable.

Thank you for reading! 
Leave a ⓒⓞⓜⓜⓔⓝⓣ below.

Anonymous. (unknown). §5. Coumarin: The Real Story vs. the SCCP Opinion SCCP/0935/05.. Available: Last accessed 07th October,2010
Anonymous. (N/S). Coumarin. Available: Last accessed 7th Oct,2010.  
Smith, S.E. . (2010). Coumarin. Available: Last accessed 7th Oct,2010.  
Anonymous. (N/S). Coumarin. Available: Last accessed 7th Oct,2010.
Khan, A, Safdar, Khan,M, et al. (2003). Cinnamon Improves Glucose and Lipids of People With Type 2 Diabetes. Available: Last accessed 8th Oct,2010.
Cass, H. (N/S). Controlling Blood Sugar with Cinnamon. Available: Last accessed 8th Oct,2010.  

No comments: